Tips to Cook Rice Perfectly

At Zojirushi, we test enormous amounts of rice every year to perfect our rice cooking technology. Cooking rice is a true art, and even a couple of minutes over or under can make a huge difference in your rice’s taste and quality. Today, we’ll be diving into the fundamentals of how to cook rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Let’s dive in!

The Basics

Simply put, rice is prepared by boiling or steaming the rice grains in water over an extended period of time. Think of a rice cooker as essentially a precise rice steamer that helps your rice absorb water evenly throughout. Here are a few steps to keep in mind every time you cook your rice:

  1. First, choose what kind of rice you will be cooking. This will help you select the best cooking setting and the water to rice ratio, so your rice is not undercooked or overcooked. Long-grain rice tends to remain separate after cooking, while short and medium-grain rice will tend to stick together more.
  2. Make use of your Zojirushi rice measuring cup. When we are in a hurry, it might seem easier to just eyeball your rice instead of using the rice measuring cup, but this will always make for poorly cooked rice. Measuring the rice is crucial when cooking rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Always use the rice measuring cup included since it’s designed to work in conjunction with the water measuring lines in the cooking pan to produce delicious rice. Fill the rice measuring cup to overflow and then level it off.

    Zojirushi’s “How to Rinse Rice” Video

  3. Wash your rice to remove excess starch, which prevents your rice from becoming gummy. Sometimes, open bags of rice can even be exposed to dust as well, so it’s important to take this step to prepare a clean dish. Because dry rice will start to absorb moisture the moment it comes in contact with water, it’s essential to work quickly when washing so it doesn’t absorb too much starchy water. We recommend washing your rice by rinsing it 3 to 4 times while making 30 circular motions in your pot. Or watch our rice rinsing tutorial!
  4. Use the right amount of water. Rice comes in all shapes and sizes that require different amounts of water when cooking. Here at Zojirushi, we want to make sure that every batch of rice is cooked to perfection. The cooking pans come with water measuring lines corresponding to each of the settings included in the rice cookers. We recommend always following the water measuring lines for perfectly cooked rice. If you are cooking other grains like wild rice, check out our “Know your Rice” page that has all the information you need to cook other grains in your Zojirushi rice cooker.

With Zojirushi rice cookers, cooking rice is as easy as pressing a button. Our Micom rice cookers are preprogrammed to soak the rice, cook, and steam it so you can enjoy the tastiest rice every single time.

For our friends who use Zojirushi’s conventional rice cookers, don’t fret. You can also have perfectly cooked rice; just follow these two important steps.

  1. Soak your rice. For the best tasting rice, always soak the rice before cooking. By allowing the rice to absorb some of the water before cooking, the texture of the rice will be improved, and you will enjoy more flavorful rice. Before switching the rice cooker to cook, soak white rice for 15 to 30 minutes and brown rice for 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Let it steam. Our journey to perfectly cooked rice is not quite over once the switch goes to keep warm. Let the rice steam for about 10 minutes before opening the lid allowing the rice to finish cooking. Once the 10 minutes have elapsed, fluff the rice and enjoy!

Helpful Tips:

• Once your rice is cooked, always fluff your rice to allow excess steam to escape, preventing excess accumulation of moisture inside.
• Get the best out of the automatic keep warm feature in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Don’t keep rice over the recommended time (12 hours on most Micom rice cookers). This will ensure that you always enjoy fresh and tasty rice.
• Refrigerated rice is excellent for making fried rice! Here are some of our fried rice recipes for some inspiration.

Did you learn anything new about how to cook rice today? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

You Love Your Rice Cooker. Now, Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Rice.

Zojirushi has been making rice cookers for nearly 40 years, so we like to consider ourselves experts in the field. Therefore, we test our products with the most modern technology to ensure that our appliances can make the best quality cooked rice every single time. For example, our new Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18 is equipped with a special umami setting that features technology that soaks and steams your rice for longer, which results in an enhanced rice flavor. This is in addition to our signature Fuzzy logic technology, which can cook a variety of different grains to perfection. 

But, did you know that rice is the most important human food crop in the world, feeding more than half of the world’s population? In Japan, rice symbolizes blessing and joy and is a staple for every meal in every household. Not only are rice crops a staple in Asian countries, but the gluten-free grain is essential in cuisines from Africa to Latin America. Today, in honor of our love of rice, we will be exploring the history of rice, where rice comes from, and other ways that the rice plant contributes to human culture worldwide.

What is Rice?

In simple terms, rice is an edible starchy cereal grain produced from a grass plant. Specifically, the grass species or rice plant that rice comes from is called Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). There are many other rice species within these classifications, such as Japonica, Indica, Aromatic, and Glutinous. Overall, it is estimated that there are up to 40,000 different types of Oryza sativa all over the world. 

 

Where Did Rice Originate From?

The oldest rice species is thought to have originated about 14 million years ago in what is now the Philippines. Over time, this species became cultivated by humans, and the rice plant evolved to produce rice grains that were more palatable to the human taste. Asian rice was first domesticated in China between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago and then spread to other parts of the world. 

Where is Rice Grown?

 

Because rice is a resilient plant that can grow in various wet or dry climates and withstand extreme weather conditions, it can essentially be grown anywhere in the world (except for Antarctica). There are more than 144 million rice farms worldwide, ranging from Asia, West Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The Oryza sativa can be grown worldwide, while the Oryza glaberrima is grown in West Africa. In 2017, China produced the most paddy rice in the world, clocking in at 210.3 million metric tons. India had the largest harvest area of rice in the 2017-2018 season, coming in at 43.78 million hectares of farmland. 

 

Global Rice Consumption

 

Rice is most widely consumed in Asia, providing up to 50% of the dietary caloric supply for millions in the region. However, we are seeing other countries in Latin America and Africa adopting rice as an increasingly important part of their diets as well. According to recent studies, rice consumption around the world is expected to grow steadily at 1.1% per year until 2025. Thanks to rice, we are able to fill hungry stomachs around the world and even use every part of the rice plant to build houses, make clothing, or even make rice-based beauty products. At Zojirushi, rice is a way of life, which we celebrate daily in our commitment to making the best rice cooking appliances.

 

Did you learn something new about rice today? What is your favorite type of rice, and how do you like to prepare it? Let us know if you have any more rice trivia by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

 

 

 

Tonjiru: Japanese Pork & Vegetable Miso Soup

We all may be familiar with miso soup, but tonjiru is a classic type of miso soup that is widely popular in Japan during the colder months. This hearty home-cooked favorite features a savory, pork-infused broth complemented by seasonal vegetables and is perfect as a snack, appetizer, or main dish when paired with a bowl of rice. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it packs huge flavor and nutrients for anyone craving a comforting meal.

Where Does It Come From?

Tonjiru (豚汁) comes from traditional Chinese characters that mean “pork” and “soup.” Sometimes, it can be read as “butajiru,” but the Japanese kanji characters are the same. Tonjiru was created sometime in the Meiji era (late 1800s) and has been a traditional winter dish ever since. This soup was meant to feed many mouths, and because meat was not as readily available as it is today, the soup that we enjoy today has a much higher pork to vegetable ratio than before. This soup is preferred not only for its flavor but because of its high-fat content, which keeps the soup warmer for longer.

How to Enjoy Tonjiru

Here are some of the tastiest ways to prepare tonjiru right at home.

Pork

  • Marble-rich cuts of pork like pork belly or shoulder are most commonly used for this dish. Thinner cuts will cook faster, but thicker cuts may add more depth and flavor. The choice is up to you!
  • Brown the pork first to add more flavor to the soup base. Fry evenly on both sides until the meat turns brown. Some even like to char the pork before adding it to the soup.

Vegetables & Add-ons

  • After browning the pork, “sweat” your vegetables in the same pan to release their flavors and aromas. Use seasonal vegetables that are available to you, such as mushrooms, carrots, and onions. The more veggies, the better!
  • Japanese people like to add local ingredients like daikon, shimeji mushrooms, taro, burdock, konnyaku, and Asian chives (nira).
  • You can also add in ingredients like tofu or noodles for a heartier meal.

Soup

  • The pork will add plenty of flavor to the soup, but traditional recipes use less pork and more miso. Add small increments of yellow miso to your water base, and taste as you go. To preserve the miso’s full flavor, add the miso in at last before the water gets to a boil.
  • You can also use dashi to add more flavor and umami.

Garnish

  • Finish off the dish with finely chopped scallions or togarashi (Japanese chili flakes).
  • Serve with a steaming bowl of rice and enjoy!

Now that you know all the key points on how to make the tastiest tonjiru, try making it at home with our very own Total Tonjiru Soup recipe.

Have you ever tried tonjiru? How do you like to prepare it at home? Let us know by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Mom’s Home Cooking: ポテトサラダ (Japanese Potato Salad)

When you think of Japan, you may not think of side dishes like potato salad at first. But, Japanese Potato Salad, or “potesara,” has actually been around in Japanese cuisine for over 100 years! During the Meiji restoration, Western dishes began widely influencing Japanese cuisine, and Japan’s colorful potesara is thought to have originated sometime during that period. Today, this dish is widely enjoyed across the country as a delicious side to lunch and dinner all year round. Take a look for yourself, and consider making this dish as a fun and flavorful addition to any of your holiday meals.

Origins

Like many storied dishes, the exact origin of this dish can be disputed, but Japanese people believe that this dish was influenced by the Russian Olivier salad, which was first made by a Belgian chef in Russia. Sources date the first version of this Japanese take on the Olivier salad back to 1896, and the dish has evolved to its current colorful version over the years.

Star Ingredients

There are a few reasons why Japanese potato salad is so distinct from its Western counterparts. First, it is almost completely mashed, so it has a smoother consistency and texture. Second, some of the ingredients are uniquely Japanese, which lend to its great flavor. Last but not least, this dish features an array of colorful vegetables and deli meat, which makes you able to spot this dish from a mile away. Here are some of the most notable star ingredients:

  • Kewpie Mayonnaise: This crowd pleaser may be eye-catching for its bright colors, but is largely celebrated due to its rich, tangy flavor. This is accomplished through ingredients like Japanese mayo, such as the Kewpie brand, which is higher in vinegar and tangier in flavor.
  • Vegetables: Japanese people get very creative with their potato salads, and these versions tend to be very healthy due to the generous amounts of nutritious vegetables they add in. Popular veggies include carrots, peas, cucumber, onion, and broccoli, though you can really add in whatever you like!

  • Japanese mustard: Karashi mustard is a hot Japanese mustard made from a mixture of mustard seeds and horseradish. It is very spicy and comes in both powder and paste forms.

 

 

Make the Best Japanese Potato Salad

Thinking about whipping up this dish for your next dinner party, or just for yourself? Here are some tips to make sure your potato salad comes out delicious:

  • Make sure not to overcook the potatoes. You want to let the potatoes boil in water, and then at a simmer. Overcooking will result in a texture that falls apart instead of staying creamy.
  • Remove excess moisture from ingredients. This extra step will make sure that your salad does not get too watery and will also mellow out the spices from ingredients such as onions.
  • Salt your vegetables. Adding a pinch of salt to your carrots or cucumbers will keep them crunchy, which will balance the smooth texture from the potatoes.
  • Get creative with your garnishes. Finish off your dish with some fresh cracked pepper, sesame, or even parmesan cheese if you want to make the dish look and taste extra appetizing.
  • Chill before serving. Chilling your salad will give your salad time to settle, and absorb all of the yummy flavors you just incorporated. Chill at least one hour before serving in an airtight container.

Let us know if you tried to make this dish at home, or have your own secret recipe by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

Mom’s Home Cooking: Pumpkin Nimono かぼちゃの煮付け(Japanese Boiled Pumpkin)

Japanese simmered pumpkin, which is slowly cooked to a soft, melt-in-your-mouth dish, is one of the most popular home-cooked dishes enjoyed throughout the fall and winter. It’s made with kabocha, a Japanese winter squash that is much sweeter than American pumpkin. You’re sure to think of mom’s home cooking when you try this dish, and it is an easy and nutritious addition that you can add to any meal. And the best part? This dish can be prepared in about 30 minutes and has an incredibly long shelf life. Let’s learn more about this delicious dish below.

Kabocha is a Japanese squash that is similar in texture to pumpkin and sweet potato. The color is usually a dull deep green with white stripes. An average kabocha weighs about 2-3 lbs.

Kabocha continues growing even after it is harvested! It takes a long time to become ready to consume. After harvest, kabocha needs to be ripened in a warm environment for up to 13 days to let the starches develop into sugar. Then, it’s stored in a cool place to increase carb content. This process can take up to 3 months.

It is much harder to cut than other pumpkin varieties when it comes to the rind, but once cooked, the rind is edible too. The flesh is a deep, reddish-yellow, and turns orange when cooked. In addition to being boiled and seasoned, kabocha can be prepared as tempura, croquettes, desserts, pastries, and even lattes!

How to prepare this dishThis dish is traditionally prepared with dashi, sake, mirin, and sugar, and can be prepared in just about 30 minutes. You can prepare this dish in your Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50.

  • First, cut the kabocha: The rind is very tough, so be careful when cutting. Use a large knife and cut slowly. Another option is to let it microwave for a few minutes to get it soft.
  • Remove the seeds: Use a spoon to scoop the seeds and then discard.
  • Cut into smaller pieces: Make sure the pieces are cut into roughly the same size so they can cook evenly.
  • Prepare the broth: Place the cut kabocha skin side down and pour dashi on top in a skillet.
  • Stir in the sauce: Once the broth has softened the squash, add the other ingredients and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Serve hot or cold: You’ll know this dish is done cooking when you can easily poke a hole into the kabocha. Sprinkle some sesame seeds on top and serve either hot or cold.

So, what do you think about this dish? Let us know if you tried making this dish at home or used our Electric Skillet by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!